Category Archives: STEM

National Manufacturing Day Serves as an Opportunity to Dive Deeper into 2018s Modern Manufacturing World

Inspiring a New Generation of Manufacturers

 

National Manufacturing Day® was created as a movement of the modern manufacturing industry, meant to motivate the next generation of new manufacturers. Taking place on the first Friday of every October, manufacturers around the country will open their doors to inspire students and encourage their perusal of manufacturing careers.

In order to generate a much larger career interest, industry authorities work annually to change the public’s perception of the industry. Each year, participants continue to correct the “old factory” image.

With the change in industry dynamic comes a new manufacturing image: modern manufacturing. In reality, today’s manufacturing jobs are exciting, harnessing the latest in technological innovation, and require highly skilled workers familiar with using such state-of-the-art technologies. 2018 manufacturing facilities are contemporary, stimulating, and inventive work environments. With current technology, trade workers might be placed in an office or lab, beyond the factory floor. Today, automation plays a huge role in the industry and we need the right players to assist with the functions and continual development of manufacturing throughout the U.S.

Embracing Technology and Innovation

Over the past few decades, American manufacturing has embraced technology and other revolutionary concepts.

National Manufacturing Day undertakings include the promotion of STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and math – to bridge the skills gap and reshore jobs back to the U.S. Scholarships are available.

UPR and other manufacturing businesses continue the efforts of pushing this movement forward throughout each year.

Beneficial for the Economy and Local Business

Universal Polymer & Rubber supports the significant strides that National Manufacturing Day participants have created to grow the U.S. manufacturing industry.

Reshoring is currently generating new job totals as many major producers choose to keep manufacturing facilities in the United States.  Local businesses and the overall economy are benefiting as a result.

UP&R’s American-Made Tarp Straps

As an Ohio-based company, UPR proudly offers the AMERIPRIDE line of tarp straps that are U.S. made. The AMERIPRIDE tarp strap is available at an affordable price for use in the trucking, transportation, recreational vehicle, and marine industries. These UV-resistant straps are secured with S hooks that are manufactured from in-house wire coils.

Keep in Touch

By recognizing National Manufacturing Day, UPR supports the proud contributions of everyone in the manufacturing industry.

To learn more about how we support American manufacturing, follow us on our blogTwitter, and LinkedIn. For more information on our products and services, contact us today.

Help Celebrate National Manufacturing Day Friday, October 6th!

National Manufacturing Day (NMD) is an annual day of recognition for the modern manufacturing industry. Established to highlight companies in the manufacturing sector and their many accomplishments, it is also designed to inspire and help secure the next generation of American industrial creators. Those firms interested in participating may register on the official site. Once listed, individual events can be marked as public or invitation-only.

NMD initiatives include the promotion of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects, bridging the skills gap and reshoring of industry back to the U.S.

On Friday, Oct 6, 2017, NMD will highlight more than 2,000 American manufacturers, with many opening their doors to the public to showcase this vital sector of our economy and inspire America’s youth to pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering. Manufacturers like UP&R understand how essential it is to motivate millennials to graduate in science, technology, engineering, and math, as these graduates hold the key to future American production and innovation. Industries’ goals are to help ensure that the manufacturing industry in America will continue to not only survive, but thrive.

A couple of proudly made-in-the-USA examples from UP&R’s product line are Goldline and AMERIPRIDE Tarp Straps. These straps are used by truckers to keep their tarps securely tied down and their cargo safe from weather or any other environmental hazards.

Based in Middlefield, Ohio, our company got our start in 1970 and has been in continuous operation as a premiere custom manufacturer of rubber extrusions, plastic extrusions and rubber moldings including compression moldings, transfer moldings and injection moldings that meet the needs of our many valued customers. In celebrating this day, we not only acknowledge our contributions but those of all our partners in industry.

Remember to read our informative blogs and to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay up to date. Should you be interested in our many products or services, feel free to contact us directly by calling (440) 632-1691 or by requesting a quote.

Happy National Manufacturing Day 2017 from Universal Polymer & Rubber! And remember to support initiatives like STEM education, bridging the skills gap, and reshoring year round!

 

5 Ways to Run a Thriving Manufacturing Company: Lessons from an American Success Story

For almost half a century Universal Polymer and Rubber has been a market leader in the domain of rubber and plastic extrusions and custom created products. During that time the business has placed a great emphasis on client satisfaction and in 2017, when most production units in Ohio are struggling to stay afloat, we have not only managed to expand our operations but have also been recognized as a “Made in USA” success story by the renowned publication Construction in Focus.

5 Golden Rules from Those Who Have Braved It All: 

Manufacturing may be the lifeblood of the nation, but that doesn’t render businesses in the industry immune to the cycles of supply and demand.

There are challenges to be circumvented. And brands that can’t establish themselves as purveyors of quality items falter and fail.

Companies that set themselves apart from the competition do so on the dint of hard work, a desire to learn and evolve an insightful understanding of industry dynamics.

 

 

Here are 5 hard won lessons from the veterans at Universal Polymer & Rubber Ltd. to help you ace running a manufacturing company: 

1. Be Practical and Rooted in Facts: It is easy to get carried away by the avalanche of rumors and fallacies saturating the industry grapevine. Hyperventilating over a future scenario that may or may not transpire isn’t the best use of time or resources. Projections, estimates and market predictions are handy tools to have, but only when they resonate with the take and understanding of your company and client base. Instead of chasing “what ifs,” manufacturing businesses must address known issues like the growing skill gap in the industry and the dwindling interest in core manufacturing as a career choice for graduates with well thought out, strategic actions like participation in and promotion of Manufacturing Day.

2. Be Discerning when it Comes to Staffing: Talent shouldn’t be hoarded – even in manufacturing where there is a real absence of qualified candidates. Benched employees lose their finesses and also suffer from disengagement. They negatively impact the morale of the rest of the workforce. However, rapid expansion is a possibility given the trend of reshoring over the years. A fine balance between staffing and the business level is required. It is the worth the investment to create a pipeline of “just in time” recruitment possibilities to ensure the best utilization of labor.

3. Understand that Acquisitions Take Time to Produce Results: Acquiring assets is a great way to rapidly increase sales. How?

          A. The acquired assets transfer their goodwill and clients to the parent company.

          B. The acquired assets may possess complementary skills that help companies penetrate a whole new market full of possibilities.

Universal Polymer & Rubber has made multiple acquisitions and learnt from each undertaking. The most important take-away is the fact that all good things need time to mature. Acquisitions are no different. They have to be assimilated and worked on before they can positively influence bottom-line numbers.

4. Pay Attention to Details: Manufacturing is a highly competitive industry. Maintaining a legacy of quality is essential. To this effect companies must constantly improve following the principles of Kaizen. Certifications like ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 16949 offer benchmarks of excellence and provide guidelines that reduce waste, bring down defects and boost customer satisfaction.

5. Balance Long Term & Short-Term Goals: While it is great to have a 50,000-foot view of the business operations, it’s the day-to-day activities and meticulousness in executing them which keep a company strong and profitable. A game changing business not only stays abreast of latest technological breakthroughs, it incorporates the insights in everyday activities for tangible results.

Universal Polymer & Rubber Ltd. has lived by each these five lessons and the results are evident.

If you want to learn more about succeeding in manufacturing, follow our blog and our LinkedIn and Twitter pages.

Need a custom quote? Contact us today.

 

STEM And Its Importance For Economic Growth & Development: Universal Polymer Investigates

STEM educational fields are considered to be elite. There is no denying that a degree in engineering holds more water and prestige than corresponding achievements in the fields of art or literature. This notion is corroborated by the fact that STEM jobs (or jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) pay an average wage of $85,570 annually – almost double that of non-STEM occupations. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce has found that 47% of students with bachelor’s degrees in these coveted fields earn more than their PhD counterparts who do not hail from the same background.

The bottom-line is simple: STEM careers are not only highly respected and sought after, they also ensure lucrative pay and other perks.

STEM AND THE ECONOMY:

One of the reasons behind the gratuitous income linked to STEM jobs is the perception that science and related tech fields are difficult and complicated. Students need to be motivated to take on these disciplines as they must work harder and with more perseverance to satisfactorily handle their course loads.

However another aspect of the equation is the genuine contribution made by STEM careers to the economy of the country. Seven out of the 10 largest occupations are related to computers. And a deep understanding of computers and the art of creating programs from scratch is the desideratum of most industries and sectors at this point of time. Automation and scaling are virtually impossible without coding knowledge and even exponential technologies like 3D printing and Artificial Intelligence rely heavily on STEM to cross the bumper of unity and hit main stream markets.

Manufacturing – the lifeblood of the US and the largest contributor to the GDP needs to draw on qualified blue collar workers trained in science and technology to man the equipment on factory floors.

All in all STEM is at the heart of growth and development of the civilized world and receives due focus in the form of a rapidly expanding job base and higher pay packages.

STEM AND SKILL GAP: WHAT WILL THE FUTURE BRING?

There are 3.6 unemployed Americans for every available job in the market. In stark contrast, science, technology and manufacturing sectors boast two vacancies per qualified candidate! In short, there is a dearth of potential employees who can satisfy the increasing demand for tech-savvy workers. And if this trend escalates, there will come a time when the ‘skill gap’ will put a glass ceiling in place, restricting America’s prosperity and putting a stop to native innovation. The brain drain from Asia is gradually reversing as local governments realize the implications of exporting bright minds out of the country.

Under such circumstances the efforts of President Obama who has kick started an initiative to bring STEM and related fields back to glory are laudable. These endeavors must work out if America is to support the weight of its super-power status on the shoulders of home grown STEM masters.

Universal Polymer supports STEM and acknowledges the fact that without evangelizing science and technology to recruit future prospects sustainable economic growth is not possible.

Mixing the Right Batch – The Importance of Rubber Chemists

Manufacturing rubber compounds is a lot like baking a cake: it all comes down to having the right recipe. And just like any good recipe comes from a good chef, a high quality rubber compound is devised by a skilled rubber chemist.

A rubber chemist’s job starts when they receive an ASTM specification from a manufacturer. That spec dictates the needs of the finished rubber compound, from required hardness, strength and elongation, to necessary ozone and temperature change resistance. From there, the rubber chemist sets about crafting a compound that meets three challenges:

  1. Design for Application: The compound must satisfy the requirements of the ASTM spec.
  2. Design for Manufacturability: The compound must retain its desired characteristics after being processed in the manufacturer’s facility.
  3. Design for Market: The compound must be the lowest cost possible while still achieving 1 and 2.

Creating a compound that meets the necessary requirements on paper is different than creating one that satisfies real world conditions. Ensuring the manufacturability of a rubber compound means walking it through the manufacturing process it will undergo—be that extrusion, molding or some other process—and seeing how the compound reacts in use. A skilled rubber chemist understands compounds, chemical interactions and end use applications—in short, they understand the process of turning raw rubber into a finished part.

To begin their work, a rubber chemist will mix rubber in one or two pound batches, testing each until they hit upon a compound that satisfies all three design challenges. From there, they’ll typically move up to a full batch, then continue to scale up. As they do they’ll make sure that the proper mixing time, mixing temperature and weigh ups (the weights and percentages of each component of the rubber compound) are observed. A rubber chemist will follow their compound through the mixing process,  and often through the rubber manufacturer’s own trial process as well.

Rubber chemists play an integral role in the manufacturing world. Wherever a rubber part is involved, the process of manufacturing that part began with a rubber chemist. Right now there is a shortage of skilled chemists in the rubber industry. The ones who have reached retirement age are often paid to stay longer as anxiety builds about a shortage of new chemists entering the field. As we discussed in a past blog, the task of motivating the next generation falls to all of us currently working in manufacturing. Spurring students to pursue  careers in rubber chemistry will ensure that the rubber manufacturing industry stays strong for years to come.

Industrial Athletes—Competing Against Yourself to Achieve Success

Manufacturers have a lot to do these days. Many have entered new markets as tried-and-true industries have slowed down. Many more are involved in instituting lean manufacturing principles to keep prices competitive while still making a profit. All of this requires skilled personnel, and one of the challenges facing manufacturers across all industries is the shortage of new, skilled workers. That adds another item to the to-do list: getting the next generation interested in pursuing a career in manufacturing.

Part of this effort involves dispelling old notions that the factory is grimy, mindless work. As manufacturing plants have evolved over the past twenty years, machines have gotten more high-tech, and workers more multifaceted. Multitasking has become the norm and as everyone wears more and more hats, there’s a constant element of learning and challenge to every job in the plant.

That challenge is something that many middle school and high school students don’t realize is there. We have to communicate that manufacturing provides a stable, lucrative career with lots of growth potential—but we have to go beyond that message. After all, think back to your own high school days and how much those words—“stability,” “growth potential”—meant to you. We need to speak to students on their level, keeping in mind their priorities and interests. And they love a challenge, they love to compete. From video games, to sports, to working hard to make honor roll every semester, students are constantly working to be better than they were the day before and to reach new heights. If they feel that manufacturing is a dead end job, no wonder they aren’t pursuing it as a career path.

But today manufacturing workers are more like industrial athletes than cogs in an assembly line. Every day they use their brains and their bodies to find better ways of doing things. They work to limit defects and produce more. There’s a sense of learning and refining every single day. And that extends to management roles as well. How many projects did you quote last week? How many were successful? What was the total dollar amount? How can we do better this week? You set up a plan, benchmark it against expected results and take corrective action. No matter what your position in the manufacturing plant, every day is like a game.

And for the first time, everyone is truly playing on the same team. The suggestion boxes of yesterday have been replaced by the group meetings of today. When manufacturers institute lean principles they turn to their workers to figure out the best ways to improve. Today, everyone in the plant has a voice, a voice that’s heard and respected.

We need to let students know that the behaviors and attitudes that have already taken them so far will bring them continued fulfillment and success in the world of manufacturing. They’ll quickly discover the more “practical” benefits of manufacturing for themselves. For now, we simply have to get them on our team.